Jan 11, 2013
Washington, DC – The Brady Campaign has been working closely with the Vice President’s Task Force on Guns. On Wednesday, Brady Campaign President Dan Gross accompanied by a group of families of victims of gun violence, met with the task force to discuss a set of policy recommendations. Today they are releasing a summary of these recommendations, which reflect the comprehensive approach supported by the Brady Campaign.
“We believe in the approach being taken by the Vice President. There is no one answer to preventing gun violence. It is a complex problem that deserves a comprehensive set of solutions,” said Gross. “The recommendations we are presenting to the White House reflect what we believe are the changes that can have the biggest impact right away. We cannot wait any longer. The American public wants this conversation to be taking place, but more importantly, they want action. We believe that as a nation we are better than this, and our recommendations can make a real difference.”Brady Campaign Platform for Reducing Gun Violence in America
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence believes in a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence in our nation, including both
- policy to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people,
- and public health and safety programs to inspire safer attitudes and behaviors around the 300 million guns in our homes and communities.
We believe the passionate and sustained voice of the American public is essential to creating meaningful change in these areas. Our goal is to bring that voice to bear in order to make this the better, safer nation we all want and deserve.
- 1. We call on elected leaders to support a policy platform that addresses the broad gun violence problem and is driven by the opportunity to save the most lives. Every death is a tragedy, whether in a mass shooting that horrifies our entire nation, or one of the 32 gun murders or 90 gun deaths in our communities and homes every day. We applaud the Obama Administration and others at the federal and state level who are leading a policy conversation based on our common goals and values, avoiding the usual, divisive political debate. Policies such as “universal background checks” on all gun sales would keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill and other illegal purchasers without impacting anyone else’s Second Amendment right to own guns. Background checks are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners -- and they would make us all safer. Let's start there.
- 2. As Americans, we must address how we think about guns in our communities and in our homes. Public education campaigns are critical to inspiring law-abiding individuals to make safer choices around gun ownership and access. Brady’s “ASK” and “Suicide Proof Your Home” campaigns are evidence that we can have a significant, quantifiable impact on public attitudes and behaviors by educating the public about the relative risks and benefits of gun ownership in an honest and credible way. Other public health and safety issues, such as drinking and driving, and smoking, also show how public health and safety campaigns and insights have had a significant impact on positively changing social norms around dangerous and risky behavior. One key opportunity is in the area of mental health, educating clinicians and parents or spouses of individuals with specific mental illnesses about the dangers associated with access to guns in the home.
Our top policy priority is closing the massive hole in the background check system that enables 40% of all gun sales to take place without background checks, not only at gun shows, but also with the added anonymity of the internet. As a result convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill and other prohibited purchasers can easily purchase guns with no questions asked. Calling it a “gun show loophole” trivializes the problem. “Universal background checks” on all gun sales would have a clear positive impact on public safety, and is also clearly compatible with the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns. These policies also tend to enjoy the greatest public support. For example, 92% of Americans and 74% of NRA members support background checks.
Examples of additional policies that should be implemented include:
- Strengthen the background check system that already exists to ensure, for example, that mental health and other relevant records are in the background check system and readily available within the states.
- Improve the ability to identify dangerous people who present the most risk, especially among the mentally ill.
- We should provide legal mechanisms to prevent those dangerously mentally ill who present the most significant risk from possessing guns, while carefully protecting the rights of those who are mentally ill but do not pose a risk.
- Other dangerous people who are currently not prohibited from purchasing firearms include: terrorists, violent misdemeanants (not involving domestic violence), violent juvenile offenders, and some substance abusers.
- Support law enforcement by giving them the tools to crack down on gun trafficking and prevent straw purchases.
- Limit the number of guns that can be purchased in a short period of time.
- Make gun trafficking a federal offense.
- Allow the ATF to conduct more than one spot inspection a year for dealers (currently prohibited).
- Eliminate legal loopholes that unfairly protect dangerous practices that contribute to gun deaths and injuries.
- Guns are the only consumer product exempt from federal product safety regulations, so feasible safety features are not required.
- Negligent gun companies are the only businesses shielded from state civil justice laws, so corrupt gun sellers are not held accountable.
- Crime gun data is the only special industry exception to public disclosure under FOIA, so officials, law enforcement and researchers are kept in the dark.
- Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control, are prevented from studying guns as a public safety risk, so important public health data on policies and programs to prevent gun injury are unavailable.
- ATF is prevented from requiring basic store inventories that would prevent thefts and expose corrupt dealers, and minimal punishment and excessive evidentiary hurdles make it unduly difficult to punish traffickers and corrupt dealers.
- Limit the availability of military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines that are designed for mass killing.
These policy recommendations are presented to our elected leaders and to the American public who can work together to make our nation safer.
The Brady Campaign is the nation's largest citizens' lobby to prevent gun violence. We represent the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans who are tired of living with the constant tragedy of gun violence and are in favor of strong laws and policies that will save lives. We are the light that exposes politicians who are putting the American people at risk, empowering the American people to hold them accountable for decisions and actions that undermine public safety.
We are driven by the focused vision of a nation where all Americans are safe at home, at work, at school, and in our communities.
Dan Gross is the President of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. A photo and more information about Dan Gross is available here.